The Bible I use has 1,614 pages. It is full of commandments and examples that tell me in detail how God expects me to live my life. Not a single page lacks significance.
Though the Bible is not as long as the US tax code (the 2013 edition of which has 4,037 pages) and is a great deal more interesting, it can be daunting to think of all the numerous precepts and regulations against which my life will be judged.
But on second thought, it might not be all that complicated. Moses says in Deut. 10:12-13,
What does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?
Moses said this not long after delivering God’s Old Testament law, which, according to the rabbis, includes 613 rules. But Moses realized that the whole law of God boils down to a few basic principles treasured in the human heart. Everything else is an outworking of these basics. What more does God require than these?
Even the closest, deepest, most intimate relationship with God must still include a measure of fear. It is to Christians that Paul writes, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). He created you and He cares for you, and yet He threatens to punish bad behavior. Let no one think that he is so close to God that he is above God’s word. God is our heavenly Father and even our Friend, but never our buddy. A God-fearing person strives to please Him. A God-fearing person does not speak flippantly of Him or use His name in vain. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10).
Walk in All His Ways
The Bible is not a random collection of rules, nor a series of hoops to jump through for God’s entertainment—it is a direct reflection of God’s own character, and our relationship to Him as His children. “The one who says he abides in Him, ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). We avoid bad language because God is pure. We treat others with kindness and forgiveness because God is kind and forgiving. We tell the truth because God is true. “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Christian behavior is really just learning to be a follower of Christ.
Loving God is the foremost commandment (Mark 12:28). Is falling in love with God that much different than falling in love with a person? We discover God, we learn more about Him, we become enthralled by the things He has done on our behalf, and we confess our loyalty to Him forever. Yet it’s more than infatuation. It’s about treasuring God above all else. He longs for that relationship. When is the last time you prayed to Him, “I love You?”
Serve Him with All Your Heart and with All Your Soul
There is perhaps no one more praiseworthy than the apostle Paul (2 Cor. 12:11), and yet he calls himself a lowly servant of Christ (Rom. 1:1). We are God’s slaves. We live to serve Him; not to serve ourselves, not to serve money, not to serve any human being. Ultimately, we belong to God.
This service is given freely, gladly, and whole-heartedly. We do not begrudge Him our time and effort, because, after all, He purchased us from slavery to Satan with His own blood, and we owe Him our lives. There is no part of us held back in reserve. There is nothing of which we say, “God, you can have this, and this, and this, except you cannot have this one thing right here.” No activity, object, pursuit, or relationship is exempted from God’s claim to “all” our heart and soul.
Keep His Commandments, Which Are for Your Own Good
A devoted Christian has a pure and genuine attitude in the heart that says, “God’s will be done.” What does God require of you, except to do what He says? That doesn’t require a complicated checklist! “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). Jesus says, “if you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). We must remember that judgment will eventually be on the basis of our deeds (2 Cor. 5:10).
We are convinced that God isn’t making rules to spoil our fun. His commandments are “for our good.” God is the Creator of man. He knows better than anyone else what will give a person a fulfilling life while on this earth, and eternal life when this earth is gone. The Bible is not designed to restrict us, but to liberate us from the pain and heartache and suffering of sin, and to bring us into fellowship with Almighty God. “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). We must learn to appreciate the limits God has set for us, rather than rebel against them. —John Guzzetta